Networking. When was the last time you heard this word? We did dozens of times last week. And what took place last week? The Summer School for NGOs 2023!
For eleventh year in a row, the Bulgarian center for non-profit law (BCNL) assembles representatives of 20 Bulgarian non-governmental organizations near the seaside. And even though I have been a part of BCNL since 2018, it was only in 2023 that I finally managed to participate in the mythical Summer School. And I understood why it’s “mythical”.
Before it starts, you think that 6 days are plenty and there will be time for everything. But when you arrive you somehow start to feel like things will not go the way you imagined. For just 6 days, we prepared last minute budgets, found solutions to real-life cases from the NGO world, conducted meetings with “real” representatives of authority, wrote strategies and rebutted each other for the steps to their achievement, we supported each other’s advocacy campaigns, and fought for our causes. We went overtime in each conference, because we waned to learn more and more, and the lecturers wanted to give us as much knowledge as they possibly could.
But how is this connected to networking? How is it not! Literally – with a climbing rope, virtually – through social media and emails; advocational – when the colleague from the green, blue, or yellow team needs help – we, the red team, are there for them!
We laughed together at night and then, we had early meetings in the mornings to work on our tasks. It was somehow easy and pleasant to be all together. We took care of our workspace, of finishing our tasks in time, of one another.
And after these 6 days, not only do we have the networks, but we also have more knowledge, more “cheat sheets” for a variety of unexpected situations, and more clearance about who we are in our organizations, how to help them evolve, and what type of partners to look for in the process.
Author: Radina Banova-Stoeva, participant in the Summer School for NGOs 2023